News / Europe

Greeks, Riot Police Clash During Protest Over Spending Cuts

Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011
Greek protester uses a baton to hit a riot police officer during clashes in Athens' main Syntagma square, June 15, 2011

In Greece, two major unions went on strike and tens of thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday.  It is a public protest against government plans to toughen the country’s austerity measures and save the country from financial ruin. 

More than 20,000 people took to the streets of Athens, and in Thessaloniki in northern Greece, another estimated 20,000.

They were protesting against government plans to raise taxes and cut spending.

The demonstrations were mostly peaceful, but in the capital, at the Syntagma Square outside parliament, riot police fired tear gas at a group of protestors who were armed with petrol bombs.

Inside parliament, lawmakers debated the controversial new austerity package worth around $40 billion that is causing major public discontent.

One young Greek told reporters that something has to be done to reverse the government plans.

She says at 25 years old, she does not know what will happen to her future.  She says she is very angry about the situation.

But the Greek government is struggling to come up with a way to balance the country’s spiraling debt problems.

Loans to Greece from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund are conditional upon this new austerity package.  And Greece is dependent on its creditors.  If the EU and the IMF do not deliver on a rescue package, Greece will have to default on its debts -- a situation that would have repercussions across the European Union.

But European governments have their own problems to worry about, not least tax-paying voters who are not happy about bailing out the Greek economy.

Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners in London, says EU nations have to pull together to keep the Greek economy afloat.

"If the European Central Bank cannot help the ailing situation of certain members, then what is the point of having the euro?" asked Wheeldon.  "This situation and that of other countries who have run into trouble, or may yet run into trouble, has to be dealt with in a concerted manner by the government of the rest."

Part of Wednesday’s action was organized by two Greek unions who went on a 24-hour strike and organized public marches.  Similar events have turned violent in the past; just last month, three clerks died after their bank was hit with firebombs.

And it is not just public protest that the leading Socialist Party has to worry about.  On Tuesday, a government deputy defected, narrowing the government’s majority in parliament.

Wheeldon says it is a volatile situation, but Greece and the European Union will get through it.

"We will get through [this] crisis.  If Greece is to default, or does default, which it probably will at some point, it's not going to bring the euro down and it's certainly not going to bring the EU down," Wheeldon said.

The Greek austerity package is to be voted on later this month.

You May Like

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Russia’s Prosecutor General to Review Legality of Baltics Independence

Move, announced Tuesday, has alarmed Baltic States and strained even further their increasingly tense ties with Moscow More

US Urged to Keep Up Pressure on Cuba Rights

Communist government continues to hold dozens of political prisoners, tightly restricts freedom of expression, uses threats, intimidation to discourage critics, according to activist groups More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Interneti
X
Mike O'Sullivan
June 30, 2015 8:20 PM
Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs